Elearning Marketplaces and Software for Authors
Elearning isn’t just for educators and trainers anymore. Solutions like elearning marketplaces and software have become important tools for thought leaders, authors, and entrepreneurs seeking new revenue streams and increased exposure.
Navigating the elearning landscape can seem a bit intimidating at first. Industry jargon like LMS and SCORM can make you feel like you’re in alien territory. But you don’t need to become an elearning expert to take advantage of this booming industry.
In this article, we focus on areas in the elearning landscape that can benefit authors the most:
Elearning marketplaces have become fantastic outlets for increasing readership and finding new revenue streams. The Udemy marketplace alone touts over 20 million users.
You can offer free or paid courses on most marketplaces. Free courses can be a good way to present the main topics of your book to potential readers, and paid courses can generate an average of 50% in royalties.
Not all topics are a good fit for these marketplaces, though. They are not a place for wholly promotional material. If your book lends itself to teaching valuable skills, conveying new ideas, or enriching readers’ lifestyles, then elearning marketplaces may be a good opportunity for you.
Most marketplaces offer self-service platforms where you can add your own lessons, quizzes, and resources. But they also have specific requirements for your content. Course content should to be educational in nature, and foster learning for the sake of learning.
Typically, elearning marketplaces require a number of high-resolution video lessons divided into modules, along with quizzes and resources to enhance the learning experience. Some marketplaces also require Closed Captioning.
In addition to course content, most marketplaces require optimized course descriptions, keywords, and other metadata. Many marketplaces even require short promotional videos for each course to aid in marketing efforts.
Pros and Cons
There are many advantages to offering your courses on established marketplaces. They have a built-in audience; they handle all the details of upkeep, ecommerce and support; and they bear the cost of marketing.
However, there are some disadvantages as well. If your goal is to increase revenue, the revenue share marketplaces take can cut into profits. If one of your goals is build a mailing list, be aware that most marketplaces will not let you collect information like email addresses from your students.
Alternatively, you can host your own courses or use a Learning Management System (LMS). Those options are discussed later in the article.
During the initial boom, elearning marketplaces sprouted from every corner of the Web almost weekly. But enough time has passed to safely predict which marketplaces will likely remain the main players. Here are a few general marketplaces to get you started:
Udemy was at the forefront of the marketplace boom, and continues to grow as it moves into other markets like business and non-profit. The Udemy marketplace touts over 65,000 courses and over 20 million students. You can offer free or paid courses. Udemy pays anywhere from 25% to 97% royalties on course sales.
Skillshare is a subscription marketplace that promotes project-based learning. They require each course to have a hands-on project that enhances the learning experience. Skillshare is a bit more discerning about their instructors and topics than Udemy. Skillshare pays royalties to premium instructors based on how many times a course is accessed.
OpenLearning is an online course marketplace that emphasizes social learning methodologies. Their platform provides a social-media type interface where students learn from and engage with each other and instructors. You can offer free or paid courses. OpenLearning pays 85% royalties on course sales.
CyberU is a fairly new marketplace, but is a subsidiary of Cornerstone OnDemand – which has been in the learning space for nearly 20 years. CyberU offers a curated library of courses, so there is a vetting process for instructors and course content. They pay instructors a 50% royalty on course sales.
There are also many niche elearning marketplaces. The Elearning Industry website has a curated list of marketplaces that is worth checking out.
How Elearning Delta Can Help
The Elearning Delta team can walk you through all your options, focusing on marketplaces that make the most sense for you, your book, and your long-terms goals.
Our instructional design and development team will create course content based on your book that is appropriate for your targeted marketplaces. The rest of our team works closely with you to brand your course, help secure royalty free images, create appropriate graphics, and recruit amazing voice over talent. Your course development might include:
- High definition video lessons with Closed Captioning
- Interactive elements and projects based on your book content
- Engaging quizzes, suggested activities, and resources
- Certificates of completion
Preparation and Packaging
Once your course is complete, the Elearning Delta team prepares the metadata you need to give your course a successful start and packages your course for easy deployment.
Your course package will likely include:
- High resolution video lessons
- Formatted activities, quizzes, and resources
- Optimized course and lesson descriptions with keywords
- Course requirements, target audience, and learning objectives
- Course introduction, promo video and course images
Having everything packaged like this makes the process of uploading your course to any elearning marketplace a breeze. And you can relax in the knowledge that everything you upload is polished and professional.
Elearning Software Versus ePub
Elearning software is filling a gap ePub has struggled to fill for years. With elearning software, you can easily embed multimedia elements, offer downloadable resources, and add engaging elements without the need for special readers.
Granted, you can embed video and other, limited, interactive features into ePub documents. But even if such elements are included in an ePUb, they can only be accessed on a few ePub readers. iBooks, for instance, does not allow embedded material from outside sources like Vimeo or YouTube.
So, why try and force ePub to do things elearning software does right out of the gate?
With elearning software, you can create an engaging, educational, and fun experience for your readers. Some of the elements you can incorporate include:
- Embedded video from Vimeo or YouTube
- Links to resources and other materials
- Downloadable resources
You can then package your end product to be accessed by any modern browser or mobile device. All you need is a link – no special readers required!
This type of untethered solution is ideal for authors who want convenient portability, superior interactive capabilities, and reliable multimedia.
What Can I Do with Elearning Software?
Many of you may already be thinking of ways you can utilize elearning software. Here is a list of possibilities to get your juices flowing:
- Supplemental resources and multimedia for nonfiction books
- How-to videos, activities, and knowledge checks for instructional titles
- Curated video and resource libraries
- Hands-on learning tools for nonfiction and children’s’ books
- Full-length online courses based on your books
- Animation and motion graphics to demonstrate book topics
- Games to enhance learning or just for fun
And the software is not limited to supplemental material. You can easily flow your entire book into an online, interactive ebook, breaking up the content with engaging elements like videos, activities, and knowledge checks.
Check out some examples on our live demo site.
Most elearning software gives you the option to package your end product as HTML5. This means your product can be accessed using any modern browser or mobile device. Using this method, you can place the product on your own website or burn it to a Flash drive or SD card. This flexibility opens a host distribution possibilities. Here are some of the distribution methods you might consider:
- Offer a link in your book, on your website, on social media, and in other promotional material
- Copy it to thumb drives or DVDs to sell at speaking engagements
- Add it to your WordPress website using a plugin
- Sell it as a digital download or as a physical product from an ecommerce site
- Offer it as part of a members-only subscription platform
How Elearning Delta Can Help
Elearning software is the basis of Elearning Delta’s DeltaWidget®. Our team can assess your content and make recommendations for either a supplemental widget, or for your entire book content with added elements.
We brand your DeltaWidget® to match your book, package it for distribution, and help you find the best distribution methods.
Elearning Delta has hosting solutions in place for your entire project as well. We safely host and password-protect your projects, including Vimeo Pro hosting for your videos and secure Dropbox hosting for your resources.
Learning Management Systems
Elearning software also offers the option of saving your project as a SCORM package. SCORM is an industry standard file format that is readable by Learning Management Systems (LMS). The SCORM package can be uploaded to any LMS; and reports quiz scores, completion data, and other information to the LMS.
We’ve touched on the topic of LMSs a few times in this article. An LMS is a platform used specifically for elearning solutions. An LMS can be used to create and manage your own online school or marketplace.
You can build as many courses as you like with text lessons, SCORM packages, videos, resources, quizzes, and certificates. Most LMSs also include forums, groups, blogs, and other features that allow you to create a community of learners. You can even build your LMS into an ecommerce website.
How Elearning Delta Can Help
Elearning Delta has special packages for the set-up, customization, and population of your LMS. We also have special offers for hosting your courses on our own LMS.
How about you?
Are you offering online courses based on your books, adding interactive elements to your content, or using elearning software in innovative ways? If so, we would love to hear about your experience.